Who knew staying awake past midnight on the last day of 2019 and ushering in a new year, a new decade and hoping for new opportunities would turn out to be everyone’s worst nightmare? It’s been eight months into the year and I am sure everyone has dreaded the last few months more than ever, looking for a fast forward button to 2021, especially retail businesses.
When countries worldwide went into lockdown, retail businesses were forced to adapt to the times. But did you stop to think that this might be for the better? As newer generations are becoming more tech-savvy, they are looking for newer experiences — ones that they can relate with and are more technology-driven whether it’s dining out or shopping.
While we still have the next four months left ahead of us, these brands need to clinch every opportunity possible. And yes, it’s possible for your business to succeed even in these trying times. You just need to find the right recipe that works for your business and work on that. I am of the opinion that fashion brands can evolve well if they follow The Fashion Industry’s 4 ‘P’s (and no, this is not the marketing 4 ‘P’s but rather something I feel has worked with known fashion brands).
KPMG recently published an article that talks about the 3 ‘R’s to survive and thrive in a post-COVID-19 world. One of the 3 ‘R’s is about re-planning which focuses on changing current business models in order to stay relevant to consumers. While the article talks about this from a workplace perspective, I feel this is something that all businesses including fashion brands need to start looking into.
The global pandemic forced retailers to find other means when stores shut down amidst lockdowns. Consumers have also formed new purchase habits that will affect the future of shopping. The biggest one of them all is embracing the convenience of online shopping methods from the comfort of homes. And this holds true even for older consumers as well, who were used to old school methods such as going down to stores.
Zara leveraged this to their advantage. It was recently announced that the Spanish apparel retailer is focusing its efforts and investments on e-commerce stores. While they were looking to expand their online presence before the crisis, this only hastened the process as they realised the importance of it is generating sales. I believe that is something that fashion retailers should consider adapting to; using digital as a primary touchpoint with consumers instead of using it as a supporting means.
Happy Marketer’s Head of Digital Strategy, Trishe Goh, shared her thoughts on how online and offline efforts complement one another for meaningful customer experience. And I agree with her on this. Consumers are always looking for new and exciting experiences. With the fashion space being highly competitive, brands need to be able to break through the clutter and show customers their unique selling point. And that does not have to be necessarily related to the products they sell, but it can also be the customer experience that they deliver.
In one of my earlier video blogs, I showcased how fashion brands used augmented reality to create an unforgettable customer experience. While that is one way to provide a unique experience, did you know that with the help of data analytics, fashion brands can get double or triple the love from their customers? Just like Netflix or Spotify, fashion retailers can also make use of analytics to recommend the right clothes at the right time, to the right people. Trust me, this is not impossible!
Uniqlo in the US is a great example of this. With the help of artificial intelligence, they are providing recommendations to customers based on their past purchase behaviour data. And just by doing this, you are able to create a much more meaningful and personalised customer experience for your customers who then, in turn, become your brand evangelists.
A well-known fashion rental company in Southeast Asia, Style Theory partnered with CleverTap to receive a real-time view of their customers’ journey. They were able to drive more meaningful engagement with customers as they were now able to identify the stages of their customer journey. The fashion rental brand was able to identify high-intent customers and doubled down the efforts on converting them.
Today, with so much data readily available for fashion brands to use, it becomes imperative that brands start taking control of the data they can get access to. I strongly believe that brands should adopt a more data-driven approach.
Nothing beats the magic of a physical fashion runway show, right? You would think that since COVID threw a lot of the designers worldwide into a corner, they would cancel the pre-planned fashion shows. Think again!
This year has been all about finding innovative and exciting alternatives to large gatherings. While most people have resorted to apps like Zoom, Houseparty and Discord amongst others, fashion brands have chosen the Livestream path for their 2020 Fashion Week.
Rain or shine, the show must go on. While some countries cancelled their fashion shows for the year, Shanghai continued with its Fashion Week 2020 digitally. And here’s the best part — the event garnered more than 11 million viewers and they sold $2.8 million worth of merchandise during the event. Other cities like Moscow adopted a similar style to keep the show going.
I personally feel that through the digital shows, brands can collect data about the viewers and their behaviour and interaction towards the brand. It gives them an opportunity to target these people who have high intent already, so as to make the most of their marketing spend.
Every point above, whether it’s building partnerships with the likes of CleverTap or adopting a new business model that includes e-commerce stores some way or another, relate to how fashion retailers can digitally transform their business means to access an abundance of data. And with these insights, they can create actionable roadmaps to help grow the brand in the overly cluttered industry.